The Silicon Valley tour, part 6: A trip to the Internet Archive


Those that have read my previous post about visiting the technology giants of Silicon Valley, might have gotten the idea that organizations around here aren't that welcoming to strangers. Well, that might not be entirely true. One of my stops in San Francisco also included a visit to the Internet Archive, a foundation that is trying to preserve all the information our civilization possesses. And they were more than welcoming. Besides giving Andraz and me a full tour of their headquarters, they've also invited us to one of their staff meetings, where the Archive's members and volunteers present their activities and results from their specific fields.

The Internet Archive is located in a former church in San Francisco, so there's more than enough room for all the people and hardware. Two main projects are currently taking place; one is the Wayback Machine, which makes snapshots of websites throughout history, and the other is the Archive, which represents systematic digitalization of movies, music and books, manually done by its members. A never-ending task that can only be done by activists who genuinely want to protect the knowledge of mankind, and you can contribute to the effort as well.

During our tour, 2.5 petabytes (that's 2.5 million gigabytes!) of data was mentioned, but I'm not sure if that's just one of the projects or both. This data is well protected, with mirrors all over the world. Impressive stuff, good enough to currently make the 223rd most visited site in the world (according to Alexa), get to the front page of The New York Times, and receive various prestigious awards.

One of the most fascinating stops of my Silicon Valley trip was indeed educational and inspiring, and it got me thinking: If there's a modern Library of Alexandria in the making, this would be it. Thumbs up.

Internet Archive Headquarters Building

Internet Archive's Headquarters in San Franscisco. It goes well with the logo, even though they came here only a few years ago.

Internet Archive Staff Meeting

The staff meeting, where members from various fields presented their achievements

Internet Archive Employee Figures

Everyone that is an employee for more than 3 years, gets its own figure inside the church

Internet Archive Server Racks Brewster Kahle

Brewster Kahle, the chairman, passionately presenting the Archive's servers. There is no air condition, since heat is used for building heating.

Internet Archive Empty Disk Casing

The irony: since consumer hard disks are cheaper, they buy those and get rid of the casings.

Internet Archive Scanning Books Videos Microfilms

This is how scanning of videos, microfilms and books looks like

Internet Archive Scanning Statistics

Are we there yet?

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written 21.3.2012 19:28 CET on chronolog
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